By Mohamed Harees –
“People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.” ~ Noam Chomsky
It was an irony of fate that after two weeks, Trump’s unilateral decision on Jerusalem was dumped into the dustbin by the rest of the UN Security Council. The US was left isolated and forced to use its veto after all other 14 members of the UN Security Council, including US’ allies, voted unanimously for a Resolution condemning this high-handed decision. The Resolution called Trump’s declaration “null and void” under international law, but the measure ultimately failed after the US exercised its veto power. Nevertheless ,the unanimity of the rest of the Council was a stark rebuke to the Trump administration over its unilateral move, which upended decades of international consensus and which illustrated how the US position on Jerusalem was far outside the international consensus.
This whole episode sadly highlights how the power of one arrogant veto can undermine the consensus among the rest even within the UN Security Council (UNSC) itself, let alone global consensus. Incidentally, in the past this curse of the veto has been haunting the world at large due to the self-centered policies of the big 5 veto wielding powers- the US, UK, France, China and the USSR, which enables them to withhold UN Security Council authorisation when it affects them, thus paralysing the very purpose of the UNSC. Particularly like in this case, it also clearly showcases the arrogance of the US which calls itself the sole global super power to act at will ,seeing itself as having little regard for international consensus or need for the UN and international law, like the invasion of Iraq by Bush on flimsy grounds of WMD along with his poodle Blair. During this sitting of the UNSC on the Jerusalem issue, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley who felt like a cornered animal, too used arrogant language to stress that no-one can dictate terms to them, describing the resolution as “an insult” and warning that it would not be forgotten.
The world had to bear the brunt and the risk of the Cold War, on the heels of the WWII. John Lewis Gaddis concludes in his book ‘The Cold War’, ‘it began with a return of fear and ended in a triumph of hope’, an unusual trajectory for great historical upheavals’. Regretfully this expectation of hope remains unfulfilled to this day, as the world had to deal with an arrogant sole super power the US in the Post-Cold War era, whose sense of ‘American Exceptionalism’ has made the world a much worse place to live in, of course with the threat of consequential terrorism and their intervention in affairs of other countries in their assumed role as the ‘global policeman’. However, America seldom realizes that the age of their exceptionalism is over, as being time and again proved in the Trump era and as stated in an article on ‘Time for a New Destiny’ by Godfrey Hodgson. (15/11/2010), ‘In a world of car-bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), of globalization and wage competition, of asymmetrical campaigns and multi-polar relationships, of transforming identities and rising ambitions, Americans have as yet understood even less than their fellow westerners the emerging strength of the weak and the weakness of the strong’. No longer is there much appetite for America playing its long-standing role of global policeman, even in the face of the rise of terrorist groups like ISIS.
Tom Engelhardt in an article on ‘Donald Trump Might Set a Record—for the Biggest Decline of American Power in History’(The Nation-13/06/2017) asks the question: When the Trump years come to an end, will the United States be a pariah nation? and says, President Trump, in real time, tweet by tweet, speech by speech, sword dance by sword dance, intervention by intervention, act by act, in the process of dismantling the system of global power—of “soft power,” in particular, and of alliances of every sort—by which the United States made its will felt, made itself a truly global hegemony.
World leaders nowadays seem prepared to provoke the wrath of the White House, confident that it will never rain down on them. Nor America’s both allies like the EU/ NATO and adversaries including North Korea’s little rocket man Kim (as Trump calls him), Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or even Tehran , no longer fear them. Galtung’s in his 2009 book, ‘The Fall of the American Empire—and then What?’ sets out a whopping 15 “synchronizing and mutually reinforcing contradictions” afflicting the US, which he says will lead to US global power ending by 2020—within just four years. Galtung warned that during this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary “fascism”. For Galtung, Trump’s incoherent policy proposals are evidence of the deeper structural decline of US power.
In this context, Trump’s policy declarations – expressed with such boisterousness and blithe disregard for the consequences that it is hard not to be enraged as a Muslim – disqualifies the US as an arbitrary peace-broker in the Middle East and has put the near-finality stamp on their fast declining clout in the region. Trump, like the past administrations in Washington also has a notorious weakness for autocrats and dictators. They regularly had less than no respect for democracy if the will of the people seemed to stand in Washington’s way. This attitude is seen in Trump’s close relationships with the dictators in the Arab world. In this context , with Israel’s loyal Arab henchmen – Arab monarchs and leaders dressed in flowing silk garbs – brutally subjugating their own citizens and their Palestinian brothers at the behest of Israel, who does Israel have to fear?
The reason why observers are predicting that ‘like every other episode of heightened tension in the decades-old Palestine-Israeli conflict, the global opposition to Trump’s declaration will soon die down, the anger will dissipate, and – contrary to the much anticipated violence and bloodshed in the Middle East – it will do little more than agitate the Muslims he had intentionally sought to offend. That is largely due to Israel’s cavalcade of obsequious Arab leaders who tacitly support Israel for various reasons and continue to uphold the continued occupation of Palestinian lands.
As Faarah Adan correctly observes in a MEMO article on 11/12/17, ‘For repressive regimes whose very legitimacy and survival depends on the US, the multitude of Arab states could hardly oppose Trump. Other than mouthing the usual platitudes and paying lip service to the Palestinian cause or uttering some condemnations and denunciations to placate their angry public, there is little our weak-kneed Arab leaders could do to defy Trump’s decision or challenge Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East. They are impotent and toothless’. There were low level representation from Saudi, Egypt and UAE at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC) summit meeting in Istanbul on Jerusalem.
These Arab leaders will cautiously allow the Arab people to let off some steam by burning American and Israeli flags and hurling insults at the benighted Trump for crossing the red line as long as the people do not cross the red line themselves and will get back to their daily routines gradually. A theatrical performance Arab leaders have come to perfect over the decades in order to sedate the sentient public and assuage their fears with regard to Palestine. Besides, it has become clear that the Trump administration would not have dared to take this step, which violates the rights of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, if it didn’t receive the green light from some Arabs, or at least guarantees of silence by some Arab countries.
It was disgusting that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), supported by his pal Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, have formed strong ties with both Trump and Netanyahu. MBS also liaised closely with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law whom Trump entrusted with the “ultimate” task to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It was reported that MBS pressured Palestinian President Abbas, to accept unreasonable concessions as part of those efforts. In this context, the Saudis and their Arab allies along with US sold down the street the Arab/ Muslim interests for Israeli interests. There were news of pro-Palestine demonstrators in Algiers comparing Saudi Arabia’s king to the US president, calling them “two faces of the same coin”. Thus, torn between Trump’s arrogance and Arab indifference, the poor Palestinians continue to eke out a miserable living in the world’s largest prison filled with despondency.
There were more stronger noises being made at the OIC summit in Istanbul calling for the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the Palestine’s capital. In the context of US Vetoing the UNSC resolution on Jerusalem, OIC Chair Erdogan, echoed by Palestinian leaders, also suggested that they would pursue a similar resolution in the United Nations General Assembly, where a simple majority would allow a non-binding resolution to pass. Even if a General Assembly resolution is non-binding, its potential passage would show overwhelming consensus in opposition to Trump. There is already a positive response from the UN and EU members opposing US’ Jerusalem move and to renew efforts to unify the world sans US and find an amicable settlement of this age-old Palestinian conflict. It will be up to the Palestinian leaders (PLO and Hamas) as well as OIC leaders to make use of this goodwill world-wide and facilitate this process at the global level. It is however sceptical that another Arab spring will come forth anytime soon, unless the Arab activists build up dynamism and momentum at the grass-root levels in the Arab societies through the social media outlets either to pressure their sycophant leaders or to replace them to enable them to represent the aspirations of their people as it could also be an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the ME, who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the U.S. supports. Yasser Arafat once said, ‘Palestine is the cement that holds the Arab world together, or it is the explosive that blows it apart’.
To the world, Palestine is the issue, and until this issue is resolved, there can be no peace and freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world.